TPF Noob!
Jul 17, 2013
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My photography started off as me taking pictures for my friends and family as favors. I've been the goto desktop publisher. Now I'm getting more and more requests for paying shoots. I've always been pretty self conscious but the people that i know personally love my photographs, I just dont hold much weight with their opinions. I've been using relatively cheap equipment. Mainly my 50mmf/1.8 II on my three year old t2i. I also have the kit lens and the 75-300mm f/4-5.6 II, which i dont use really ever. I have been considering investing next year in a better camera and prime lens and taking photography a lot more seriously, but I would hate to be going off the opinions of people that really dont know any better. Here is is a link to my flickr and facebook page. In your professional opinion am I wasting my time or is there real potential there. I honestly want the raw truth I am not sensitive, and I'd rather know before I spend a couple of more thousand dollars:

Flickr: Madams_Memories' Photostream

Well, I looked first at your Flickr page,and while I do not personally like your soft, diffused glow type of style paired with the dark edge vignetting, there is ONE THING, well TWO things that shine through. FIRST off, and this is a biggie--your subjects seem to be showing genuine emotion, happy smiles, and seem to be relating to the camera and you in a very positive manner. and the second thing is, your stuff has nice defocused backgrounds, emphasis on the people, and very consistent exposure and quality.

Again, I do not personally like to see so much diffused glow look....buuuuut....those emotions, those happy people, shot after shot,after shot...

You just cannot BUY the kind of emotive, expressive subjects that your Flickr page shows, shot after shot after shot. I can see why people are coming to you for shoots. Your technique might be a bit, well, newby-ish, but boy howdy, you've apparently got some people skills or one hell of a personality....the people are just lit up with emotion.

I say "go for it." You can buy all the camera gear you need, but I see in your photos something that no amount of money can buy.
Yes I think there is potential. I have no idea what your background is, but if you're a relative newbie in business as well as photography, then make sure to put effort into learning more about both if you're doing this upgrading with an eye toward maximizing those paid gigs you mentioned.

Books on both topics should go alongside lenses and such in any upgrade IMO.
My focus right now would not be maximizing on paid gig, down the line that would be nice. I want to improve and expand on the amount of opportunities to take photos of different people. I feel I rely heavily on edits after the fact and I want to be better at "taking a good photo". Right now everything I do is free, I only charge for printouts or cds if they want them. I'm just uncomfortable misrepresenting myself at this point. I would never dare call myself a photographer to take advantage of people.
As long as you have a portfolio like this and can consistently produce more of the same (or better), then it's pretty much impossible to "take advantage of people." They see what you have done already, and they pay you based on those expectations, so if you can do more of that, then they will be happy customers and you an honest service provider. Whether or not it is the best work ever in the history of the universe.

Unless your portfolio is full of stolen photographs from other people, or you just recently mangled your hand in a meat grinder and are still taking money for shoots, or something ridiculous that is going to lead to you not being able to deliver the quality you have on display already, then there's nothing sketchy about it. Whether it is as good as other photographers is irrelevant. If you had to be the best photographer in the world to take photos for money as an honest living, then the world would only have one honest pro photographer in it.

But don't let me bully you into doing something you don't want. I'm just spitballing. Practicing / learning for fun or whatever is great too.
Everything everyone here has said is all excellent advice. Go ahead and spend that couple of thousand dollars.
1. you have very pretty eyes.

2. Everything D-man said is spot on.

3. Get an 85mm prime. Perfect portrait lens

4. Instead of a new camera, buy basic lighting kit (speedlight, soft box, reflector, stands, remote triggers) and start learning about studio lighting.
Yeah, even juist owning ONE fairly powerful 400 Watt-second battery powered flash, a good, solidly-made light stand, and a 45 inch and then a 60 inch umbrella would really, really increase your "professional look", and inprove results too. I'm talking about a real, 400 Watt-second flash unit like this one on special from Adorama, for $199: Flashpoint CD400 400W/S Battery Powered Flash Kit CD400

This eliminates the need to carry an inverter and battery, and eliminates the need for wall outlet electricity. With an ultra-high efficiency umbrella designed for a circular flashtube (NOT for a camera flash, but for a "real" studio flash round tube!) like the Paul C. Buff Parabolic Light Modifier, or the PLM, this thing could light up a whole doggone 40-person family reunion from 50 feet away, up on the balcony or whatever. Bounced off of a ceiling, or a corner, or a wall, a powerful 400 W-s flash unit can give that look that many people associate with "professional photography", which is to say soft, diffused, controlled lighting that looks good on people.

A "lot" of professional photography is about LIGHTING things. With off-camera light(s). I think the easiest way to do this is to get a light, a 45 inch umbrella and also a 60-inch umbrella, and start practicing. I'm suggesting the above 400 W-s flash because it is simple, it "looks professional" because it's kind of an odd design and not very many people can afford anything in this type/class, and it's entirely battery-operated, so you will never have to worry about "Is there going to be an outlet nearby?" Plus, replacement parts for this thing are affordable, as these things go.
I have a very cheap light kit. There is no flash capabilities, they are always on and are heat up a room pretty good. It consists of two rectangular softboxes and a squared one for my boom stand. The bulbs are REALLY white to say that i hate how harsh it is 90 percent of the time is an understatement. I have extreme buyers regret, but I've been workin with it trying to improve on my control. I rarely shoot with my flash on. I've looked into buying an external flash for my camera but I didnt want to accidentally end up with more really white lighting.
The color of the lights is pretty irrelevant. What matters is that they are all the same color (even that's not strictly necessary in all cases, but removes a ton of headaches and speeds up your workflow considerably).

As long as they're the same, you can change them all later (most easily if you shot RAW photos) to be whatever you want in post processing, using green/magenta sliders (usually called tint for some reason) and blue/yellowish-red sliders (temperature, which is most often what differs between flashes or flashes at different powers)

Ways of making them the same are to buy all the same brand / type, or look at advertised temperatures and get compatible ones as well as possible, or buy "gels" that you put over the lighting to change its color to match some other lighting in the area, most often if you're using a mixture of ambient and flash light. Some people also use gels not to match color, but to get the color absolutely right to reduce effort later, especially in controlled studios and most especially with video.

Also, if your softboxes have standard speedrings in the back of them that they connect to your lights with, then you could probably use them with flash units as well without buying new.

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